Nearly every company has put profit first for decades. However, when they put people first, they see tremendous company growth. Today’s guest is Boris Epstein, CEO at Binc. Inc Magazine ranked Binc #3250 on the 2019 Inc 5000 list. This company has been honored on the Inc 5000 list two consecutive times. Binc is a recruiting company that assists entrepreneurs and technology companies with their hiring processes. Boris shares his insights on putting people first. We look at the ins and outs of the employee experience. Join us for this conversation on putting people first.
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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
Ultimately money is the result. Money is what comes from all of these things being developed and and value value respectively served, you know are looking at people from a from a people first lens, we have to recognize the unique perspective that each person brings the unique circumstances that they’re that their lives involve the flexibility and the unique experience that it requires for them to be there their respective best. And when a company is able to offer that level of flexibility, support inclusivity then then then those individuals could be their respective ambassadors.
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs of the fastest growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I help leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett [1:01]
Company profits are critical for the success and sustainability of your business. I won’t argue that money’s important, but money is a result to actually the other things that are actually more important inside of businesses. When you think about the money that you’re trying to create the profits you’re trying to create the clients you’re trying to serve. You want to also put equal footing onto How are you building a culture of sustainability? How are you creating the connection necessary as a leader to put people first, in fact, today, we’re talking about putting people first, even before company profits. When I think about this concept of putting people first, it is not new. A lot of the conversations I’ve had on the podcast have talked about the importance of you know employee first. Today we’re going to look at diversion and inclusion inside of this people first concept of putting people first is very important.
Gene Hammett [1:57]
Today, our special guest is Boris Epstein. He’s the founder of Binc, there are two Time Inc company, they were number 3250 on the Inc list in 2019. They’ve seen some tough times through the COVID, much like you have in your company. But what they’ve done is really had to reconnect with their own diversity inclusion, reconnect to the foundational elements of sustainability as a company. Today we talked about some of those key elements talked about putting people first even before company profits. When you think about your role as a company leader, make sure you’re continue to evolve to be the leader that your team craves. If you haven’t already gotten the training, make sure you go to genehammett.com/training, where you’ll see the three mistakes that are often made by leaders that are fixable, and their journey to create a team of a players. So learn how to create a team of a players at genehammett.com/training. Now here’s the interview.
Gene Hammett [2:51]
How are you?
Boris Epstein [2:52]
Doing well. Nice to be here with you, Gene.
Gene Hammett [2:55]
Excited to have you on the podcast. We’re going to talk about diversity inclusion, but I want to give the audience a chance to tune into who is banking, and what do you guys do?
Boris Epstein [3:04]
Yeah, good question. So we talked about Binc as the technology industry’s dedicated, flexible recruiting team. We’re about 100 100 person company right now made up primarily of talent acquisition professionals, recruiter sources, and we work on the inside of fast growing technology companies all around the country. So companies like Robin Hood, or doordash, or stripe or square, etc. Those are companies where our team members are working on the inside of to help them achieve their respective hiring goals.
Gene Hammett [3:36]
Well, you’ve got many perspectives around what makes companies tick. I know that looking at the background of bank and what you stand for, you’re really excited about not just the the impact you’ve made as a business but but the culture you’re building there. Tell us a little bit about the way you see the culture of your company?
Boris Epstein [3:57]
Yeah, that’s a good, good, good, good question. So we’ve been in business for 18 years, quite a long time. While times have changed, the industry has changed. The way we approach business has changed our north star has always been to two very consistent points. One is to offer a distinguished recruiting alternative. So that technology companies have a third choice to what we consider to be very, you know, status quo and suboptimal solutions to their total hiring problem. That’s one. The second one is around the cultural piece. We came into this business with the premise that recruiting is an amazing profession, but it’s a very under glorified one compared to equally you know, promoted professions like law or consulting or technology or entertainment, etc.
Boris Epstein [4:46]
And so we thought that if we could build a company that’s kind of elevated in nature in terms of the experience and offers to great people, then we would be able to attract a higher quality of recruiter And, and, and, and therefore kind of show the industry that recruiting, you know, can can and should be seen on equal footing with some of the other great profession. So we’ve always, you know, focused our energies on investing in our internal culture, being innovative with our respective culture. And it’s that kind of philosophy or attitude that is, you know, allowed us to, you know, create some of the, you know, attributes that, you know, we can kind of show for ourselves, as you know, help help help us attract, retain, and, you know, the, you know, sort of leader in this in this respective space.
Gene Hammett [5:37]
So, I noticed that within the Inc family, you’ve not only been kind of recognized for your fast growth, two times on the list, but also for a best place to work. And one of the specific phrases that came with that was, we put our company culture first at every step, which is why we focus on our employees before company profits. What does that mean?
Boris Epstein [5:59]
It basically means that people come first. So we have a philosophy that says, everything starts from the from the from the person, if the person is operating at their best, in a supportive environment where they feel comfortable and set up to succeed, they can then be their best for themselves, they can be their best for their team, they can be their best for their clients, and then profits naturally, naturally follow. And we thought that was a better philosophy for us to follow, then one that says, make your profits and then people get the returns or the or the dividends, what kind of flips flips the equation a little bit. And ever since we made that we had that kind of realization and made that shift is about very coincidentally, when we started to see very accelerated, very…
Hold on for second Loris had just said a few minutes ago, people come first. Now, when you think about the way you run your business, are you putting the numbers First, the work first, the client first? Are you truly putting people first? Well, a lot of the research of fast growth companies would probably tell you, you know, logically that they put the numbers First they put growing the company before anything else, but the reality is 94% Plus, actually put employees first, I asked these questions all the time to leaders, I challenge them, and the way they operate, the way they think about their business, is they’re putting employees first accreting a place for people to operate their best. Do you think about that? That’s great leadership. Back to the interview with Boris.
Gene Hammett [7:32]
Well, let’s go back to the time before you made that shift was I’m sure it’s you always thought and people were important. You always thought that you know, leadership and culture were something critical to what you’re building. But you didn’t put it first and foremost, what do you would you say that you put first and foremost before you made that revelation.
Boris Epstein [7:50]
It was customers and whatever it took for customers to achieve their respective goals. So I very vividly remember the dichotomy of before and before it was customers need what they need, and our team needs to do whatever it takes for them to achieve that, even though our team might be unhappy serving that customer, even though our team might be, you know, put in a disadvantaged position, having a having to, you know, sacrifice all sorts of things that you’ll make them their respective best, we would encourage them and insist that they respectively do that, even if it was at the expense of that individual, you know, deciding to move on from being we were okay with that. And then we shifted our philosophy and and the shift in philosophy said, okay, we need to really focus on our people that we focus on our people, that everything else falls into falls into place.
Gene Hammett [8:40]
I really love the fact that you, you made that relevance relativization made that moment. And you’ve actually seen the benefit behind it. So just briefly, what has changed in the way that you’re leading, that has made this work.
Boris Epstein [8:59]
From a leadership perspective, it has to whatever words you put on paper, whatever, whatever, you know, vision, one is able to share or does share has to show up in real life. And so if you say people first but then your actions show that you’re actually not caring for people and very, you know, one-off small situations, you know, approving PTO supporting flexibility, giving space for, for growth and overcoming challenging very, very small specific things, in companies that the company has a sense of misalignment between words and action. So it’s a there’s a couple of stage to like experiencing a culture one is, you know, defining it and you know, a lot of companies have values and a stated mission. And then the next step is to actually live those things. And then the next step after that is to find ways to continue living those things in areas where they may not necessarily be visible. So it takes all three, for culture to be successful.
Gene Hammett [10:07]
One of the things I talk about a lot on the show a lot with my clients, and I’ll ask them the question, and I want you to kind of chime in here, and I know I’m throwing you a curveball, what are the rituals that you’re really kind of can see contribute to you living by this concept of people first.
Boris Epstein [10:25]
Whenever we make, whenever we make decisions, we’ve we found that we’ve created the metaphor internally of a triangle, each, angle of the triangle represents a different interest. So there’s the people edge, there’s the company edge, and then there’s the client edge, we’ll look at any decision that we make across all three things, what’s the thing that we could do that’s really going to be in the service of the person, that’s really going to be an interest of the company that’s really going to be in the interest of the customer. And ultimately, our goal is to find a balance where all parties are respectively interested. But it’s incredibly important for us to recognize what that people’s first edge is telling us. Because ultimately, coming back to our philosophy, if our if our people are happy for people are fulfilled, that then feeds success for the company, and for our customers.
Gene Hammett [11:19]
I’ve done a lot of conversations around this. And you probably not aware of my research. But one of the things that I wanted to share with you fast-growth companies like on the Inc list. When I asked them this very I call it the impossible question. You won’t think it’s so impossible, because of the way you think but I say, as a leader, what’s more important, your customers or your employees, you would naturally say?
Boris Epstein [11:42]
Yeah, are, they’re both very important. We live we can’t live without the other but happy customers and unhappy people and in our experience are going to be less successful than happy people. Because happy people can contribute to happy customers the other way around.
Gene Hammett [11:59]
I love the way you frame that. And it’s an impossible question. And I truly know. But I’ve asked so many leaders this question 94% Plus, on the Inc list will say that its employees are more important. Yeah. And it’s because they believe they’re smaller companies, they’re not big like I’ve been told, by really big CEOs of Fortune 50 companies that I’m wrong. And I’ve had to sit there taking it. And I’ve said through 20 minutes of why I’m wrong, that it has to be customers. And I really love the fact that you’re willing to share this and live it and in your building a company, it proves that you understand that your company is not just about to make money, but it’s out there to create a place for people to serve this the community. Right? you’re serving, you’ve got families, tell us just one more thing about this whole concept of people first, and that really helped you tune in to why it’s so important.
Boris Epstein [12:59]
Yeah. Ultimately monies, the monies, the result, money is what comes from all of these things. being developed and value respectively served, you know, are looking at people from a people-first lens, we have to recognize the unique perspective that each person brings the unique circumstances that they’re that their lives involve the flexibility and the unique experience that it requires for them to be there their respective best. And when a company is able to offer that level of flexibility, support, and inclusivity, then then then those individuals can be their respective best. And I’ll give you just like an example. around our, our journey going to a fully distributed culture, we found that we’d have different individuals who work in offices and different individuals that work remotely.
Boris Epstein [13:58]
And in getting to know our remote team members, we found that there was a point in time where they felt subservient, or they were made to feel less than because of some inadequate abilities that existed in our culture. And so it was important then for us to take some steps to shift some of our existing practices, like go from meetings where you know, one tile is you know, 12 remote people that are 12 in person, people that only talk to each other, and then three remote people that feel very left out. So we moved to a structure where we had equal tiles for everyone, even though half of the people on those tiles were in a similar physical office that allowed for an equitable experience to be created. And then people felt a better sense of fairness of, you know, a place that company and that created like a very kind of uplifting experience for all respective sides. That’s a good just a small example. steps that we took to see that ultimately.
Hold on for a second. Boris just talked about money is a result. And when you think about it, there’s always a cause and effect inside of our businesses. Many times we have marketing is the cause the effect, maybe new sales? Well, when you think about building a business, money is always the effect of what’s really going on. It’s is the after the fact, is the result. So what are the core issues that will allow you to improve that? Well, I believe having people that are thinking for themselves and powered in a unique way, and really have the kind of trust that allows them to think and push the business beyond where it is today is critical. leaders that create new leaders, and all of the aspects that go around with creating more ownership, even when you don’t have the financial tools available to you. Those are critical aspects to you. Being a strong leader creating a company that makes money but because they have the right people in place, and they have the right culture to support it. Oh, back to the interview with Boris.
Gene Hammett [16:04]
I love that you think through that level of detail. Many companies probably haven’t done that. Maybe because most everybody is still remote. In some ways. I know we came here boards to talk about diversity inclusion, when you think about building a culture Did you set out to have diversity, or did something that evolved along this journey.
Boris Epstein [16:27]
Very much evolved, I consider diversity and the concept of inclusion and concept equitable, at least for myself as a leader to one be of perpetual growth. And evolution, I’ll tell you just a very, very, very specific story where it kind of clicked in my head, the importance of it, it was very late. I’m a slow learner, it came very late in the 18 years that we’ve been in business, maybe just four years ago, or so. We had several women and leadership and they had for you know, one reason or another, each respectively chosen to move on. So the point where we had everyone in leadership was was it was a man and a couple of brave women at our company brought up to myself and our other partners, the concept of, of women in leadership and why that was so important. And that was honestly from my lens seen as a like a what is it that a woman can do in leadership that we can’t do? Why? Why can’t you know what, why can’t we just, you know, serve your needs? And we then became very aware or a lot more aware of differences in leadership value in diversity and leadership and the different value that that different individuals who bring different perspectives can bring to their respective company and team so that was like the very beginning of a journey.
Boris Epstein [17:55]
And that helped us become open to the different perspectives from our team from outside coaches and partners who we spoke with, around the different dynamics that different individuals bringing, I’m just thinking about gender, in this case, men and women, different dynamics that that brings to to a leadership team, we learned about concepts of inclusivity how different people of different backgrounds interact with, you know, with with, with common practices at companies that that that compelled us to become first aware and then to take action and make changes and then see the benefits of those respective changes in the form of you know, improved, improved cultural experience.
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Gene Hammett [18:50]
Now, I know we’ve been focused on the gender thing, I would imagine that you can’t have this diversity of inclusion without talking about diversity of thought diversity of you know, religious beliefs and you know, sexual orientation and whatnot. Is that something you guys have wrestled with as well?
Boris Epstein [19:07]
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Um, we have some standard mechanisms by which to measure diversity. So following the federal guidelines of underrepresented groups and minorities, and then just looking at our company across its existing demographics, whether it be age or race or gender or sexual orientation. And then through the lens of understanding the benefits of building a diverse team and organization. We’ve taken steps to expand our diversity via recruiting. And then ultimately once recruited through retention and growth.
Gene Hammett [19:52]
Boris, the big question here is what are the results you’re seeing when you have embraced diversity and inclusion?
Boris Epstein [19:58]
The experience that comes from employing a diverse team involves topics being brought up for discussion in a variety of different settings, being able to capture various different perspectives and insights, and then being supportive of our team and company to enact those respective changes or opportunities as they, as they respectively become, become available. So I’d say the biggest change, I would say is his awareness and awareness may seem actionable, but I come from a place that says awareness is kind of the first step towards action. And so through this awareness, then each person kind of leaves that situation, you know, being a little more informed a little bit more, you know, one step closer to the action than they previously were. And then from there, you know, via supporting individuals to and act on whatever that that awareness may encourage them to an act on is where, you know, change is respectively, in, you know, inspired and comes from.
Gene Hammett [21:11]
As you’ve grown a business too, you know, around 100 employees, it gets harder and harder to, to really keep all tuned in to all the uniqueness that’s going on, how do you do that specifically to become the leader that your team craves?
Boris Epstein [21:26]
Part of it is just being aware of the world around us and recognizing, you know, what it is that our team, you know, responds to where they’re challenged, where they’re, you know, craving, or need the respect of support I become a become through this journey. very aware, with all respect to all the continued growth, I need to do very aware of the importance of my role as a leader, it’s not enough to just, you know, allow my team to do whatever they think is best, it’s important for me as a leader, to be able to, very clearly and visibly, you know, proclaim, or state or reinforce any, any support, that’s respectively necessary. And then from there, our team then has known, our team knows that they have their companies back. So to say to go do they, I’ll give you an example.
Boris Epstein [22:17]
Our company spends a lot of time talking about diversity recruiting practices, we’re in the business of recruiting, we all spend a lot of time studying including ourselves and are therefore hyper aware of what inclusive and or, and or inclusive may look like on a client site. Because we spend so much time talking about it, if one of our team members feels that they are working for a company or a client, that may be practicing something that doesn’t fall in line with with with inclusive or doesn’t fall in line with our values. They know that we’re a company where they could bring that up to leadership and leadership will listen, we’ll have an open discussion around how best to navigate that situation, sometimes will, you know, offer techniques to our team to work through situation sometimes will escalate ourselves and have very direct confrontational conversations with our clients. Usually, most, most, most of this stuff is like stuff that our clients are unaware of, will help kind of bring us up and our clients are usually incredibly thankful and appreciative for bringing up open discussions and helping us you know, move things respectively, forward for our examples, as examples would be, you know, bias finding its way into the interview process, as an example, that might be standing in the way of a company hiring for that diversity quotient that they might, you know, be trying to respect to achieve that that’d be an example of them standing in their own way without even knowing it. And so working through that as an example of like a nuance that, that, you know, our diversity inclusion practices would kind of surface up.
Gene Hammett [23:54]
But it’s a really unique perspective to know that you’re working with so many companies to hire the right people and looking at their own diversity inclusion practices, in order to be that, that partner, you’ve got to live it to so worth thanks for sharing your perspectives here on the podcast. I really appreciate it.
Boris Epstein [24:12]
Yeah, absolutely great to connect and talk about all this.
Gene Hammett [24:15]
I love interviews with leaders who are humble enough to say, you know, I didn’t have it all figured out. This evolved over time. Much like the way you are evolved as a leader. It evolves over time. Now, a lot of leaders have outside counsel, they have outside support advisors, coaches if you will. And I do that for a lot of leaders that want to take their business to the next level, take their leadership to the next level. So here’s my call to action. If you think that you want to take your business to the next level, make sure you go to the free training that I have just for you all for leaders go to genehammett.com/raining, you’ll get the three mistakes and building a team of eight players. You can fix these mistakes just by knowing what they are, but I’m there to support you if you want to take the next step. Make sure you go to genehammett.com/raining. When you think about leadership, you think about growth. Make sure to think of the Growth Think Tank. As always lead with courage. We’ll see you next time.
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